Northern Sweden’s ephemeral and temporal ICEHOTEL 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle
The world’s first and largest hotel built out of snow and ice is an inhabitable work of art that takes on a new form each year. The existence of ICEHOTEL is entirely reliant upon the climate and one of Europe’s last wild rivers – the Torne, from which the 4,000 tonnes of ice are harvested each year between March and April.
The room temperature never falls below minus eight degrees celsius, which provides just enough insulation to protect the ice from melting and exhilarate guests awake.
Each year artists are handpicked to design and build the Art Suites within the ICEHOTEL. The process involves approximately 100 people and is constructed between November and December.
ICEHOTEL began as a workshop and art exhibit by founder Yngve Bergqvist in 1989 when he invited artists to participate in a workshop led by two Japanese ice sculptors. The first project unveiled was a 60m2 igloo called ARTic Hall. In the following years, ARTic Hall grew to 250m2. The technique and final product attracted glowing attention and was used for church services, films and a bar. The technique was patented and protected and soon guests began to stay overnight.
Guests sleep in sleeping bags, atop reindeer hides and mattresses that cover large blocks of ice. ICEHOTEL promises that the room temperature never falls below minus eight degrees Celsius, which provides just enough insulation to protect the ice from melting and exhilarate guests awake. The hotel has 47 rooms which accommodate approximately 50 – 60,000 guests per year. It closes in mid-April as the ice begins to melt, returning to Mother Nature, providing a clean slate for the following year as the water runs back into the Torne River.
ICEHOTEL continues its effort to be CO2 negative by incorporating renewable energy used such as wind, hydro, solar energy and biofuels. The effort is an example of what could be done even in the most severe climates – even where it is dark and cold for the most of the year.